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Outsider to Oversee Edwards Reorganization

August 25, 2000|Leslie Earnest and E. Scott Reckard

Edwards Theatres Circuit Inc., a family operated movie house exhibitor for seven decades, has tapped an outside turnaround specialist to guide the chain through bankruptcy reorganization. Stephen V. Coffey, 48, who was quietly named president of the Newport Beach company last week, has emerged as Edwards' highest profile employee, fielding interviews after the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Wednesday. Chief Executive James Edwards III, who has run the business since his father, James Edwards Sr., died in 1997, has remained behind the scenes. Coffey was brought aboard as a management consultant in early January. Later that month, he was named chief operating officer. Installing an outsider in the driver's seat is a sharp departure for Edwards, which has been shepherded by family members throughout its 70-year history. Edwards is scrambling to save its business after an expansion spree to build large modern theaters left it mired in debt. Coffey founded Coffey Management Co. in May 1986 to provide owners and chief executives of briskly growing California companies with turnaround and consulting services, according to a biography released Thursday. From February 1998 to July 1999, Coffey was president of D&L Sheet Metal Inc. in Fullerton, where he completed a "strategic overhaul" of the sheet metal manufacturer, the biography says.

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